Uttarakhand preps for Kanwar yatra with special trains, market for pilgrims
A record four crore devotees are expected to arrive for the upcoming Kanwar pilgrimage, which is scheduled to be held from July 16 to 26
With a record four crore devotees expected to arrive for the upcoming Kanwar pilgrimage, which is scheduled to be held from July 16 to 26, special arrangements are being put in place in Uttarakhand by the Mela administration and departments concerned, people familiar with the matter said.
The Northern Railways has decided to operate special trains during the pilgrimage while a special ‘Kanwar market’ is being set up near Har-ki-Pauri at Pantdeep and Chamgadar Tapu near Ganga for the Kanwar fair.
Kanwar yatra is an annual pilgrimage of Shiva devotees, known as Kanwariyas, to Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand to fetch Ganga water, which they take back to their respective areas to anoint Shiv Lingams in temples.
The pilgrimage is being held after a gap of two years owing to covid-19 pandemic. Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has said that the Kanwar fair will be held in grand way on the lines of Char Dham Pilgrimage.
“As Kanwar pilgrimage is being held after a gap of two years owing to covid-19 pandemic spread, it is expected that the kanwariyas’ number will exceed the 2019 tally of 3.90 crore mark. So, Railways will soon operate special trains and also extend the normal routes of some trains operating from Delhi, Meerut and Saharanpur for the convenience of the pilgrims. A coordination meeting with the state government will be held on July 6 in this regard,” said additional divisional railway manager (ADRM), Moradabad Rail division, NN Singh.
“Exact trains and their timing will be announced soon,” he added.
The Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police squads will ensure no Kanwariya or passenger sits atop the train bogies.
Kanwar Mela force, which consists of state police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and Central Para Military Forces, will be in full strength by July 18 when Kanwar pilgrimage will be at its peak.
“In wake of Kanwar pilgrimage being sensitive, community peace meetings are being organised with circle officers and station house officers presiding over these meetings. The intelligence, civil and para military personnel will be deployed in sufficient numbers in coming days for a peaceful Kanwar fair,” said senior superintendent of Haridwar police, Yogendra Singh Rawat.
At the Kanwar bazaar, all items related to the Kanwar pilgrimage and kanwariyas will be available in one place.
More than 300 shops for which Municipal Corporation is inviting tenders will be temporarily set up for the Kanwar fair.
From bamboo Kanwars, decorative materials, religious items, eateries, fruit stalls, clothes, rain coat to metallic pots in which kanwariyas fetch holy Ganga Jal will be available.
By having Kanwar market on the outskirts of the core Mela zone, congestion at Har-ki-Pauri markets can be reduced.
Municipal Corporation has also started making temporary toilets for Kanwar fair. More than 200 temporary toilets will be constructed at the Mela area.
“Tender for toilets, Kanwar market and parking is being done. Encroachments will also be removed from Mela zone and other important places,” said Municipal Corporation town commissioner, Dayanand Saraswati.
Kanwariyas arrive in Uttarakhand through Haridwar district, the entrance gateway of Garhwal division, primarily from Laksar, Shyampur, Mandawar-Bhagwanpur, Kali Nadi, Narsain and Roorkee side. Nearly one crore Kanwariyas arrive on foot to fetch sacred Ganga water. The remaining Kanwariyas arrive on two-wheelers, four-wheelers, trucks, trolleys, buses, trains and other means of public transport.